Use of “Present” and “Presented” in Technical Reports Writing

When reading a technical report, you may come across the phrase “Details are present in Table 2.” Sometimes, it will be written “Details are presented in Table 2.” Which one do you think is correct?

A picture of a graph with the words Details are present (the word crossed out) or presented, followed by question marks

The confusion comes because “present” can be a noun, verb, or adjective. If you are using it as a verb, then “present” is a present tense verb, and “presented” is a past tense verb.  

When it is used as an adjective, “present” means in attendance, available, or nearby. It can also mean in existence. “Present” as an adjective shows that the information is there but perhaps not consciously placed there. This doesn’t seem to quite fit the context of putting information in a technical report.

When used in the sentence “Details are presented in table 2,” it seems that “presented” is used as a past tense verb because the information was placed there in the past. 

Another option that makes it clearer is to write “as presented.” For example, “… as presented in Table 2.” 

So, it is better to use “presented” when referring to tables and graphs in reports.

Related: Is Business Writing the same as Technical Writing?

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